Sanofi names Bayer’s Olivier Brandicourt as new CEO

Sanofi on Thursday announced that its board of directors unanimously appointed Olivier Brandicourt as its new CEO. Brandicourt, who has been chairman and CEO of Bayer’s healthcare division since November 2013, will assume the new position effective April 2.

Chairman Serge Weinberg, who said that he was “very pleased” with Brandicourt’s appointment, commented “Sanofi undertook a rigorous selection process to identify the right person to lead Sanofi forward at an important time for our company.” People with knowledge of the matter previously stated that Brandicourt had emerged as the leading candidate to become Sanofi’s CEO, with sources recently disclosing that the Bayer executive could be tabbed as the French drugmaker’s chief executive as soon as this week.

Brandicourt will replace former CEO Christopher Viehbacher, who was ousted in October last year over clashes with the board. Commenting on the news, Natixis analyst Philippe Lanone remarked “the nomination of a new CEO would lift some of the uncertainty that has been weighing on shares over the past few months.

Brandicourt’s appointment comes as Sanofi struggles with pricing pressure in the diabetes market in the US, with the company announcing earlier this month that revenue for its diabetes division will be flat in 2015.

Sanofi revealed plans in November last year to launch up to 18 new products by 2020, including up to six new drugs this year, which it said could amass more than 30 billion euros ($34 billion) in combined revenue in their first five years on the market. Among the therapies Sanofi hopes to launch this year include the Lantus (insulin glargine) follow-on Toujeo, which is currently under review by the FDA.

Meanwhile, the drugmaker’s experimental PCSK9 inhibitor Praluent (alirocumab) was granted priority review by the FDA last month, with a target action date of July 24.

Separately, Bayer announced that Werner Baumann will succeed Brandicourt as chairman of the company’s healthcare unit. Baumann was appointed last year as Bayer’s chief strategy and portfolio officer, with responsibility for corporate development and mergers and acquisitions, as well as being responsible for the Europe region.

20- February -2015